Military Tablespoons

By Silas Marner

H.M.S, Warrior was built in the mid 19th Century as a warship, using the technology of the time. Her construction acted as a transition between the old and the new. She was built as an iron clad sailing ship incorporating steam power and propellers. She can be seen lying at anchor, fully restored, at Portsmouth. The lower and gun decks are open to view as is the ward room. The ward room dining table has been laid as for dinner with glass, crockery and eating utensils relevant to the period. The tablespoons are similar to the one shown from my collection.

Fig. 1Fig. 2

Hallmarked in London 1853, made by George Adams and 9" long (fig.1), the marks also include the War Department stamp (fig.3). The top of the stem is emblazoned in relief with a naval fouled anchor surrounded by a rococo design (fig.2), the whole surmounted by a Queen Victoria crown.

Fig. 3

I purchased two of these spoons from a local second hand shop some 20 years ago. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Admiralty withdrew wardroom silver cutlery from the fleet at the end of the 19th Century and sold it to raise funds.

The Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey
In the early 19th Century it was the custom of the commanding officer to present a silver tablespoon as a prize for marksmanship to boys serving in the Jersey Militia. Those of the early period bear inscriptions in French. When local manufacture of silver ceased mid 19th century spoons were made in England.

Fig. 4Fig. 5

Approximately 9" long, the earlier example (fig. 4) of the two shown is inscribed to the recipients at Drill 1898 (fig.5). The hallmarks show the maker as C. T .M. London 1897. The latter example shows the maker as J.P.G. London 1908. Both spoons show a handle crest in relief of three lionised leopards on a background of crossed cannons and rifles. The later of the two includes a stylistic rococo cartouche.

Fig. 6Fig. 7

The 1897 version (fig.6&7) was purchased at a London Militaria Auction recently and was not cheap. The 1908 version was found approximately 20 years ago at Convent Garden Market as scrap silver. Oh! Happy Days!!

In summary, the Royal Naval spoon was made for a utilitarian purpose in common with most regimental flatware available to collectors. The Royal Jersey Militia spoons are the forerunners of purpose made presentation pieces retailed from 1900 onwards. The Royal Fusiliers is the only regiment that used tableware with finial in relief in my collection dating from the 1890s.


Symposium - Silver in East Anglia

8th -10th October 2004

A symposium on the subject of silver in East Anglia from the Pre-Roman period to the present day has been organised by Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service, The University of East Anglia and The Silver Society

East Anglia has been the site of some of the most important silver archaeological finds in Britain. Many East Anglian towns had a thriving silver trade in the medieval period and Norwich had its own assay office between 1565 and 1702.

The symposium will bring together leading experts in the field to examine the role of silver in East Anglia as an expression of the region's wealth. It will also look at the role of East Anglian patrons and collectors as well as considering whether silver can be regarded as a manifestation of regional distinctiveness.

The weekend will be a chance to meet specialists in the field and to participate in discussion groups with them. The programme also includes a number of organised visits to the most important collections of silver in Norwich as well as a special tour and study session at Holkham Hall on the north Norfolk coast.

The cost (160.00 per person) of the conference includes a drinks reception on Friday night, buffet lunch on Saturday, a reception and dinner in historic Blackfriars Hall with entertainment by the King's Lynn Waites on Saturday night, and a picnic lunch on Sunday. Accommodation is available for registrants at a special rate at Nelson Court Guest Suite at the University of East Anglia.

A booking form with full programme is enclosed with this Finial.


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The Finial, March/April 2004

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